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June 2018 Graduation Week Recap

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine proudly graduated fifty-eight naturopathic doctoral candidates on Saturday, June 23, 2018.  The commencement, held at the Chandler Center for the Arts, was the culmination of a week of festivities on campus, including the Awards Ceremony and the ever-popular Gong Ceremony.  Natural Partners, sponsor of the 2018 Commencement, was recognized throughout the proceedings for their generous support of SCNM and the graduates.

During the Awards Ceremony, Dr. Jaclyn Bain was voted Faculty Member of the Year, and Dr. Dusty Sowards was recognized as Staff Member of the Year.  Per tradition, the class of 2018 presented a class gift of salt lamps, making a connection between the water ceremony they held as first semester freshman and the benefits that combining salt, water and light add to people’s lives.  The Master of Ceremonies was Dean Donnelly, and SCNM President Paul Mittman gave the President’s Address to begin the event.  The event ended with the presentation of alumni pins to each graduate candidate.

Friday’s festivities allowed the soon-to-be graduates the chance to let off steam and show some flair as costumed students took turns banging the gong in the Academic Building.  A long-standing tradition, the Gong Ceremony was both fun and meaningful.

Commencement began with the singing of the National Anthem by SCNM students Katherine Schneller, class of Spring 2018, Rachael O’Connell, class of Fall 2018 and Ava Egan, class of Spring 2020.  Dr. Deng, Chair of the Department of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, then gave a very motivational invocation address.

Other highlights of Commencement included the presentation of awards by Dr. Garrett Thompson, Dean of Academic Affairs to Tiffany C. Turner (the Daphne Blayden award for Outstanding Student Award), Morgan Leigh Massingale (Outstanding Leadership Award), Rachel L. Vermeulen (High Academic Achievement Award), and Maly J. Strietzel (Highest Academic Achievement). 

A rousing graduation candidate address was performed by graduate Daniel Wool, who proudly kicked off his speech by shouting, “We did it!” to cheers from the audience.  Directly following Daniel was the commencement address by highly acclaimed Ruth Tan Lim, MD, MD (H), FAAP, who was also given an honorary degree by Dr. Paul Mittman.

The fifty-eight graduates then walked across the stage, obviously elated to be called “Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine” for the first official time, while receiving their hoods and diplomas, and officially becoming the newest group of SCNM Alumni. 

Commencement concluded after Dr. Mittman asked the graduates to stand for the Naturopathic Oath.

Here are a few facts about this year’s Spring graduates and some amazing photos:

  • Graduates held a 75% pre-graduation employment rate, one of the highest percentages of ND candidates ever to have jobs already waiting for them immediately after graduation.
  • A total of 30% of the graduates will be opening new practices, twice the 15% average for new graduates.
  • The majority of graduates (85%) will stay in Arizona, with others headed to Colorado, Nevada, Washington, California, Oregon, Georgia and Canada.



grads stairs